Keith Towse

As a wind developer, it lifts my spirits to get emails such as this one which I received a couple of days ago from a local resident: “I think the idea of a wind farm along Route 19 is a wonderful one. My hope is that this plan comes to be and this renewable, ever present source of energy will be harnessed to benefit us all.”

More often we get emails from people who are concerned about wind farms. Recently, we mailed an update about the proposed Rhodena Wind project that features answers to frequently asked questions.

There’s a lot of information at: www.rhodenawind.ca, but there are some specific concerns expressed by local residents that I would like to address. Before I do, I would like to acknowledge that the proposed Rhodena Wind project is in Unama’ki, the ancestral, unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people. We are grateful for the Treaties of Peace and Friendship with the Mi’kmaq people, which set out long-standing promises, mutual obligations, and benefits for all parties involved.

Why build a wind farm at Rhodena?

We have great wind in some parts of Nova Scotia, often along the coast such as on the hills of Rhodena. And there is enough land to create large wind farms. That renewable energy can help us clean up our use of dirty energy from carbon fuels.

When we are looking for sites, we look for areas with high winds that are close to transmission lines, and where we can put turbines as far as possible from residences. The wind blows hard in the Long Point area. In the initial project design, this site allowed us to locate turbines more than 1,400 metres away from any residence. However, we have received several comments about the proposed location of turbines to the west of General Line Road and the proximity of these turbines to Highway 19.

The Project Team is working on relocating some of those turbines. Within a couple of weeks, we will share a new layout with the turbines moved back from Highway 19, which will have much greater setbacks from existing residences.

Mostly harvested land

Like other wind developers, we work with local property owners interested in leasing their land for a wind project. We have also made an application to the Province to use Crown land. Much of that land has been harvested in recent years. We are also planning to use existing woods roads wherever possible, to reduce the area needed for clearing.

We would need to clear land for many of the turbine locations. However, much of this area is only used during construction and is then reclaimed.

Distance from residences

We measure the distance of turbines from both residences and property lines, to ensure turbines do not cause significant impacts.

Municipal regulations use a similar approach. They were set some time ago, and so some jurisdictions are planning to revise their wind by-laws. Recent reviews of wind by-laws elsewhere, for example in Europe, have established minimum setbacks in the range of 800 to 1,200 metres.

In the Municipality of the County of Inverness, the required setback from residences is 600 metres; from property lines, it is turbine height plus 10 metres. The proposed setbacks for Rhodena Wind are much higher.

Impact on wildlife

An environmental assessment will be carried out, including detailed wildlife surveys. These will be completed by an independent consultant and will then need to be reviewed and approved by the Province. This will give us the information to make necessary adjustments to turbine locations to avoid or reduce potential impact on wildlife.

On health

We recognize that some individuals may have concerns regarding health. The Project will be designed to meet or exceed all provincial regulations and guidelines currently in place to protect human health.

Health Canada with Statistics Canada and other external experts conducted a Community Noise and Health Study on wind turbines. The results, which were released in 2014, indicated that wind turbine noise was not linked to self-reported medical illnesses and health conditions. For more information see: https://tinyurl.com/health-canada-wind-farms.

Will we profit from this project?

Community Wind and ABO Wind are businesses, and we will make money from building the wind farm. We will also be paying substantial amounts to local businesses who provide services to the Project. We will be providing local jobs, making payments to landowners, whether to private landowners or to the Province for Crown land. We will be making contributions to a fund for local community initiatives and paying substantial taxes to the municipality.

Our main aim is to help the Province get off carbon fuels and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions that we all emit, and improve our energy security and equality. The Rhodena area has a great wind resource that can help us do that.

We want the project to be a good neighbour by minimizing the impact on the land and on surrounding properties. We want to develop the wind farm in a way that respects the views of the local community as much as possible. So please continue to write to us with your questions and comments. We will write back.

Keith Towse

CEO, Community Wind